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January 26, 2023

2023 ABA pipeline awards recognize commitment to increasing diversity in the legal profession

CHICAGO, Jan. 26, 2023 –The American Bar Association Council for Diversity in the Educational Pipeline will present its annual Alexander Awards on Friday, Feb. 3, from 6-8 p.m. at the ABA Midyear Meeting in New Orleans. In addition, the Pipeline Council will present the inaugural Alexander Legal Ambassador Award and the Alexander Rising Star Award at the meeting.

The awards, all of which honor an individual or pipeline organization that has demonstrated exemplary leadership and success in expanding opportunities for and success of underrepresented students, are named after two pioneers in the legal field ─ Raymond Pace Alexander, the first Black graduate of the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania and first Black judge on the Common Pleas Court of Philadelphia, and his wife, Sadie Tanner Mossell Alexander, the first Black woman to receive a Ph.D. in the United States and the first Black woman to receive a law degree from the University of Pennsylvania Law School.

Alexander Award

The recipient of the 2023 Alexander Award is Law School…Yes We Can! Founded in 2014, LSYWC is the first law school pipeline program in Colorado. The Denver-based program admits diverse, low-income and high-achieving incoming college freshmen, most of whom are first-generation college students and many of whom are first-generation high school students who aspire to go to law school. It provides them with educational, financial and mentoring support for their entire undergraduate years and seeks to “provide them with the same tools relied upon by students who have more resources at their disposal in their quest to attend law school.”

Alexander Rising Star Award

The Rising Star Award recognizes a small or emerging program that has shown promise in its mission and efforts to increase diversity in the legal profession through the expansion of opportunities for and success of underrepresented students along the educational pipeline.

The recipient of the 2023 Alexander Rising Star Award is Legal Education Access Pipeline, Inc. Founded to promote more equitable access to legal careers in California, LEAP is a diversity pipeline fellowship program that comprehensively prepares participants for a career in law by helping them successfully apply to law school, excel as law students and flourish in their legal careers. It is dedicated to diversifying the legal profession by preparing underrepresented students to become successful law school applicants, lawyers and agents for social change.

Alexander Legal Ambassador Award

The Legal Ambassador Award recognizes law firms or corporate legal departments that show a commitment to increase diversity in the legal profession through the expansion of opportunities for and success of underrepresented students via an educational pipeline that supports students into and through law school and into the legal profession.

The recipient of the 2023 Alexander Legal Ambassador Award is Sunstein LLP. Sunstein’s Practicum program, in partnership with New England Law|Boston and Perspectives in Law: CHHEP Law Firm Practicum, offers underrepresented law school students the opportunity to earn law school credit while also learning a crucial skill they may not ascertain from traditional law school courses: the nuts and bolts of how to succeed at a law firm, particularly how to bring their “authentic self” confidently into the workplace. Law students learn directly from law firm leaders and in-house counsel about necessary real-world skills, participate in coaching about career and networking necessities and gain mentors who provide “open-door access” and engage in safe, candid discussions about race and bias.

The ABA is the largest voluntary association of lawyers in the world. As the national voice of the legal profession, the ABA works to improve the administration of justice, promotes programs that assist lawyers and judges in their work, accredits law schools, provides continuing legal education, and works to build public understanding around the world of the importance of the rule of law.